Asia benzene nears two-month low on crude, high supply

29 January 2010 05:01  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Asia’s benzene values shed $25-30/tonne (€18-22) during Friday morning’s trading to reach the lowest level seen in almost two months on ample supply and the recent downturn in energy futures, traders and producers said.

Benzene prices have lost a hefty $135-145/tonne or 12-13% of its value from last Friday when prices were assessed at $1,045-1,050/tonne FOB Korea, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

Sentiment among buyers and sellers dived further on Friday as offers for March loading lots reached $920-925/tonne FOB (free on board) Korea by mid-day, while bids were countered at $890-900/tonne FOB Korea.

Price discussions were at $900-915/tonne FOB Korea at noon on Friday, $25-30/tonne lower than Thursday’s close.

Benzene values were at $900-910/tonne FOB Korea level on 1 December 2009, indicating a fall in current discussions to almost a two-month low.

The recent downtrend in energy values to $73/bbl continued to impact sentiment in the market, traders said.

However, surplus supply of benzene in this region was the key factor that was pushing prices lower, some producers and traders said.

High availability of spot parcels pushed some traders to offload four March loading cargoes in quick succession on Thursday afternoon.

“The surplus is too much in this region for February and March,” said a Korean producer.

Aromatics production margins have been healthy in the past weeks as the spread with feedstock naphtha was more than the $150/tonne needed for costs to break even. Hence, most regional crackers and reformers were running almost full and had no immediate intention to cut production, traders and producers added.

Naphtha prices were hovering around $680/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Japan level at noon on Friday.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Mahua Chakravarty
+65 6780 4359



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